Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Pizza Suprema

FINALLY made it to traditional NYC mainstay Pizza Suprema this past weekend and the vegan offerings were more impressive than I even could have hoped.

The first option I spied was just above my eye level (thus the crappy photo): a relatively ubiquitous cheeseless, veggie pizza option. I wasn't interested, but extra points for it being a Sicilian pie AND for noting it's vegan-friendliness right on the sign. From the online menu:

Veggie Medley - Vegan Friendly Pizza On a light airy Sicilian crust, diced fresh tomatoes, black olives, onions & fresh mushrooms that are sauteed with fresh garlic in imported extra virgin olive oil. (No cheese)

THEN I spied what we'd came for: the vegan margherita pie, sold by the slice*. What makes this option particularly special is that they didn't decide to offer vegan pizza, buy some Daiya, and call it a day. They make their own vegan cheese. OUT OF SUNFLOWER SEEDS FFS. And it's pretty damn great. [UPDATE 12/6/18 It is not actually Pizza Suprema housemade cheese; it's Che cheese. Thanks, McMarshall, for the correction/information!]

My one complaint (I know, I know) is that I think I prefer traditional marinara to this fresh tomato sauce, but still- it's really, really, really good. Anyone else would think it was mind-blowingly amazing, so I get it; no need to @ me.

When we'd arrived, there'd only been one margherita slice available. I selflessly offered to relinquish that to my companion- mostly because I had my eye on the unexpected second slice of vegan cheese pizza available: the "new vegan slice*" made with white truffle & ash brie (!!!) with sauteed onions. Selfless, I say.

This slice was outstanding. If I were to visit again tomorrow and these were the only options, I would go for this slice without hesitation; it was decadent. For starters, I had to blot it with a paper napkin before eating; I haven't had to do that in almost 2 decades. Yay for oil! It was rich and creamy with a significant depth of flavor; I really can't say enough good things about it.

To be fair, BOTH slices were, at their core, exactly what we needed: traditional, foldable, NY pizza by the slice. No doubt I LOVE our all-vegan pizza options, but to have these outstanding options available from a traditional joint in view of MSG is priceless.

* Tips for planning your visit:
Aside from the Veggie Medley, as of this writing, the vegan options are not listed on Pizza Suprema's online menu. I *think* it's because they're not necessarily permanent menu items? Also, it's important for me to note that sometimes when the vegan slices run out, there aren't anymore (thanks to my accomplice for suffering through this experience on a previous visit so that I could bring this information to you).

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Tacoria Mexican Street Kitchen's Vegan Menu

If you're a vegan in New Jersey, chances are you've heard of Tacoria Mexican Street Kitchen. Similar, in theory, to fast casual Mexican chains, the Tacoria flagship opened in New Brunswick a couple of years ago and has since opened two more locations with a fourth impending.

While I immediately admired their signage from afar (it's cool!), I had no idea it was a vegan-friendly establishment until a friend visited the (extraordinarily loud) Princeton location and reported back that they have a separate vegan menu; I immediately put it on my short-list to patronize.

Behold said separate vegan menu (scroll down if you follow the link):

I hadn't originally given it much thought, but BYOL observed that it's an interesting choice for the vegan "proteins" not to include more standard tofu/tempeh/seitan/bean options. Yes, we know vegetables contain protein; it's just an interesting take on the "vegan protein" issue. More on the menu options later.

Full disclosure: our first visit began with disappointment because, while the New Brunswick location has outdoor seating, dogs aren't allowed because you can only access the area by walking through the interior of the restaurant. Understandable, but regrettable. So, we got take-out:

En-salad-a: black beans, pico de allo, sliced avocado, house pineapple lime dressing served on a bed of chopped romaine with your choice of protein; here we chose brussel sprouts: charred & tossed in chipotle sauce with vegan chipotle aioli.

VM liked this way more than I did; mainly I was perturbed because it was predominantly halved Brussels sprouts with pico atop five giant pieces of lettuce and no discernible dressing. I'd really been looking forward to that pineapple lime; if it was there, I didn't taste it. It's possible that the extremely flavorful sprouts overshadowed it, but it seems doubtful since the lettuce leaves were basically dry. The cilantro in the pico wasn't a dealbreaker, and the avocado was a nice touch: generous enough that you needn't add guac (additional $$); overall, it just wasn't what I'd describe as a salad. I'd recommend, especially in light of the recent resurgence in popularity of chopped salads, that the lettuce be torn smaller and the sprouts be shredded.

Next up we ordered the viva la nachos: hand cut tortillas black beans, sliced pickled jalapenos, and your choice of protein; we went with the golden avocado: fried avocado with vegan chipotle aioli. SIGH. Okay, so we got this home and I was confused because:
  1. This wasn't what I had pictured when I imagined fried, "golden" avocado; where was the batter, the crunch? These avocado chunks glistened with oil and had about 20 breadcrumbs stuck to each.
  2. I hadn't remembered there being vegan cheese on the menu. Spoiler alert: THERE WASN'T. I was able to pick out and eat one, dry tortilla that tasted mainly of disappointment.

Mexican Street Corn wasn't on the vegan menu,* but the person taking my order kindly offered to veganize it and I was so excited that I forgot to say NO CILANTRO. Luckily, it was easy to remove the giant leaves and then it was basically just corn smothered in vegan aoili. Undeniably good, but I recognize that I probably don't need to consume that much aioli; that's on me.

 * it turns out that on the omnivorous menu it says "vegan option available"


Because I wanted to try all three "proteins," and certainly not because we needed more food (although ultimately we did because of the nacho snafu), I ordered the mission style burrito: rice, black beans, salsa in a flour tortilla with rajas: roasted corn and poblano peppers with smokey roja. This was definitely my favorite item ordered; it was on the dry side, but the ingredients were perfectly proportioned to each other and throughout the burrito, which had been assembled and sealed with extraordinary neatness (I'm looking at you, messy Chipotle).

I enjoyed it so much so that, a few weeks later, we returned to try the burrito with the Brussel Sprouts and added guacamole. The beans were a little more saucy this second time around but, once again, I think this menu item would benefit from the sprouts being shredded.

Overall, I'm really happy such a mainstream chain has an entire vegan menu instead of  secretly/accidentally vegan menu items/substitutions that only vegans are aware of through an underground, food-sharing, word-of-mouth, social media community. That being said, I think they could benefit from a few changes/additions. In addition to those I've cited above, it would be great if they could take their menu up a notch by offering vegan dairy substitutions, like cheese and sour cream, that seem to have become relatively ubiquitous in vegan/non-vegan establishments. In the meantime, I'll continue to get takeout and add my own.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Update and Throwback: Veganized, NJ

In light of the recent, exciting news that New Brunswick's own, Veganized, is going to be expanding to a larger location and keeping the original as some variation of a pizzeria, here's a throwback to my original post about them, as well as the follow-up I wrote-up for Vegansaurus, wherein I delved a bit deeper into the over-bearing waitstaff and the unusual exultation visited upon non-vegan customers.

I'm thrilled that they're so successful, but the chef/owner's habit of taking their vegan clientele for granted is still going strong and just rubs me the wrong way. As quoted in the article linked to above,

"Since those who are vegan will likely try Veganized anyway, said Biton, his target customer base is non-vegans who are learning what vegan food really is."

I recognize that the goal is always more vegans (or even more vegan meals for non-vegans), but the dismissive sentiment continues to be off-putting. Why? Why alienate your own peeps- both in person and in print?

Wishing them every success, but likely not a must-visit for me.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Eat Nice Vegan Raviolis

I've now officially consumed Eat Nice raviolis in enough variations that I feel thoroughly compelled and adequately equipped to give you my unbiased opinion, which is, THEY ARE SO RAD!! I mean, just look at 89's hangry face; she is all of us in the presence of these rad ravs.

Let me start from the beginning. I'd been hearing all about these raviolis and everyone seems to have a favorite. "Oh, you MUST get the creamy (nada) ricotta; they're the best!" "Oh, no; the meaty walnut is unmatched in flavor!" Guys, guys: calm down. You know Imma try both, so slow your roll. I got these at Basil Bandwagon, but then I picked up additional bags at an NJ vegfest event.

Obvs I enlisted VM to prepare said raviolis. I mean, boiling water is hard work AND a large pot to clean! Brace yourself for this admission: she boiled both varieties TOGETHER in the SAME POT so that you didn't know which kind you were gonna get. BLASPHEMY.

But then she served them up nice in her award-winning marinara, so I didn't mind. And, I absolutely could not pick a favorite; they are both ridiculously good in their own way. I suppose more research is required, though; know what I'm saying?

Just look how luscious:

THEN I was lucky enough to try the radioli slice from Screamer's Pizza- Mamma Mia!

Next up, I had the meaty walnut raviolis at Vegan Shop-up: prepared with a positively decadent, creamy, cauliflower paprika sauce

Obviously, I was totally hooked at this point, but I was waiting to catch the holy grail: fried creamy nada ricotta raviolis at an event. Then, sure enough, I got 'em the following month at the next Vegan Shop-up!

I cannot describe how decadent these were. I was so excited that I gave a few away... and then ordered a second batch to keep to myself. THEN I got a third batch to bring home to VM; they were THAT GOOD. I wish I had some right now. Sniffle, sniffle.

What could be better than a ravioli that you can eat with your hands? Nothing, that's what. Unless it's LIMITLESS raviolis you can eat with your hands.

Eat Nice even gave a shout out to my furry food monster and partner in snacking. She does look hella cute calling dibs on this rav.

So happy to support such an amazing product by a proud vegan company.

If you haven't yet tried these bad boys, definitely seek them out at a store near you, or order them online.

Friday, May 18, 2018

De Gustibus for the rest of us - Cinnamon Snail's Chef Adam Sobel

De Gustibus cooking school was established in 1980 as a place where you can "meet and learn" from world-class chefs in the heart of the city: on the 8th floor of Macy's Herald Square. The chefs and the menus prepared tend, not surprisingly, not to be vegan. But, every once in a while, owner and director Salvatore Rizzo welcomes a vegan chef so that the rest of of us can experience what all the fuss is about. This was the case this past week when Chef Adam Sobel of the Cinnamon Snail hosted a terrific chef demonstration and tasting.

For the record, when I use the term "tasting" to refer to the menu prepared at this impeccable event, I do so in the loosest possible terms. It was a verifiable FEAST! Obviously we didn't know this going in, or we may have chosen to forego the pre-game salad, snacks, and dessert at Cinnamon Snail's Pennsy location. Still, no regrets.

VM and I arrived at Macy's a little early because, although it was a beautiful, sunshiny day, our weather app told us a storm was abrewin'. We did some shopping and managed to completely distract ourselves from any sky darkening and all manner of stormage that veritably shut down mass transit for an hour or so in the early evening. Ever the early birds, we rode what we assumed were the original wooden escalators for a while, blissfully unaware of the panic ensuing in Grand Central, before taking the elevator up a good while earlier than the time at which we'd been tasked with arriving. We stepped of the elevator and barely had time to scan the area for which direction to turn in when Sal locked eyes, welcomed us, and seamlessly ushered us in to a sleek and beautiful hallway from which you could see the cooking area. He checked our belongings (i.e. shopping bags), offered us still and sparkling water, and just generally joined us in bubbling over with enthusiasm as we awaited the start time with our friend.

Because we're huge nerds, we sat in the center of the front row.

Our view? A sleek and stunning Miele kitchen. Fun fact; you can attend demos at the Miele "experience center" in NJ.

Here's Sal expertly explaining the organized and efficient manner in which everything would flow for an optimal experience; it worked like a charm.

Chef Adam started us off with an amuse bouche, or what I like to call a "bonus" appetizer. These Cashew Cheese Jalapeno Poppers with Roasted Lemon Dijon Dressing could knock your socks off; wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. I knew immediately that we were embarking upon an incredible evening of Chef Adam's incomparable combinations of thoughtful flavors and textures and this was the literal kick-off. Most Americans are accustomed to a bland diet that can use some shaking up. One of my favorite things about Chef Adam's cooking is that he doesn't shy away from spice. I happen to love my food to have a kick and this was relatively mild from my perspective, but I heard a few "woahs" come from the crowd. People: that feeling is your taste buds awakening from a sad slumber; embrace it! The heat and flavor from Adam's spices are your friends.

VM's was infinitesimally prettier than mine, so this is hers.

Next up was this superbly generous portion of mind-blowing Maple Mustard Beer Battered Cauliflower Wings with Lemon Dill Tarter Sauce. I'm not lying when I tell you that I had no idea how to make tartar sauce before this; I think I thought it was just vegenaise and relish. So wrong! VM, who can't pack it away like I can, uncharacteristically ate all of her cauliflower (although I did commandeer her left over tartar sauce) and then spent the rest of the evening eyeing the demo plate, plotting how to acquire it without anyone seeing. FANtastic.

Once again, VM's dish was more photogenic.

I should note that while we were eating and enjoying both the demo and banter, we were simultaneously treated to a ridiculously generous wine course from Vias Wine that was complimentary with every course. I, myself, am not a wine drinker, but VM and our friend had no problem making sure my wine did not go to waste. I will say that it was very easy to get so distracted with eating and drinking that you forgot that the chef was right up there creating amazing things before your eyes. De Gustibus is definitely a jovial atmosphere that lends itself to the utmost enjoyment and Adam's talent and overall openness to all manner of questions only added to the experience.

After that we were treated to Korean Smoked Carrot Pigs in a Blanket with Gochujang Ketchup. A word about gochujang. I LOVE IT! I've been eating the Cinnamon Snail's gochujang burger deluxe since it was introduced and I never tire of it. Chef Adam didn't invent gochujang (although he does make his own; there's a recipe in Street Vegan) but, much like loading up a sammie with arugula, it's just another thing I've learned to love and appreciate through his cooking. While creating this gourmet version of the finger food staple, Chef Adam broached many topics of interest to me, including: veganizing old school classics in homage, not imitation; avoiding making weird things simply for the sake of being weird; and, the cost of doing business in NY, whether you're a food service worker, consumer, or at the helm of a veritable vegan empire.

My dish was finally aesthetically superior, but I did have to steal one of VM's onions (I didn't return it).

Full disclosure: I received a third pig in a blanket to gobble down because my friend felt like she had to offer something in trade for my wine. She didn't, but I didn't tell her that. Om nom nom nom.

At the point when most people's stomachs were reaching full capacity, we were served the main course: Jerk Grilled Seitan with Jalapeno Mac N Cheese and Stewed Collard Greens. WOAH. So "woah," in fact, that VM ate and enjoyed her first piece of seitan, which she described as "perfect" (code for thin, tender, and crisp at the edges) and stated unequivocally that "everything should be covered in this sauce." The mac was completely different from the version served at The Pennsy (which I LOVE); this one cashew-based and equally decadent. Collards were tender and succulent AND I learned a superior method of cutting them too.

Couldn't resist the frazzled jalapeno on VM's plate.

I had to help VM finish hers; she's still an amateur endurance eater.

For dessert, there were Thai Tea Blondies with Earl Grey Chocolate Pudding. I think this was my favorite demo, most likely because...well, I was going to say a couple of things, but the reality is: chocolate. More specifically, chocolate pudding. Chocolate pudding is one of those things that my mom made for special occasions when I was a kid and it still holds a special place in my heart- especially when I'm not in charge of the endless stovetop stirring. The ceylon in the brownie and the earl grey in the pudding gave this favorite dessert of my childhood a new depth of flavor complexity. Not only did I eat my own and VM's, but I also scooped the pudding of my friend's and ate it in one fell swoop (with permission). Can't stop, won't stop!

This was actually mine, but I also ate VM's.

At the end of the meal, it was wonderful that Sal brought out the entire team that worked to make the evening a success.

Chef Adam noted a special affinity for one of the staff in particular, Emeril; it's completely delightful to see people appreciate their colleagues this much. This is just one of the things that makes the utterly talented Adam a joy to be around. The candid reverence he exhibits when speaking of his family is heartwarming; we should all be so lucky to be so revered by our loved ones.

I highly recommend visiting De Gustibus for their next vegan chef demo. If it's Chef Adam again, all the better!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Phase 2: Thoughts on Vegetables and the Dreaded SOS

So, whereas Penn saw relatively consistent weight loss as he transitioned from the potato phase of the "diet" to the vegetable phase (no salt/oil/sugar), I spent the week and a half that followed gaining and losing the same pound a half; it was most infuriating. After all, I was literally eating vegetables- half raw, half stir fried in a bit of vegetable broth- without exception, and stopping only because my jaw was tired of chewing. Literally. Whereas I could normally mindlessly eat cauliflower puffs while watching Judge Judy, I was munching carrots instead. My biggest (and first meal of the day) was always an early lunch, with raw veggies as a snack mid-afternoon, and cooked veggies (no accoutrements) for dinner. I was still not hungry by any stretch of the imagination, but I would have liked to have eaten something along the lines of the Field Roast corn dogs that were hiding in my freezer. I even bought a second bag for no reason other than to keep the first company?

Re-integrating into society:
A week into veggies VM and I "splurged" on Starbucks. She got a black coffee because, after being outed as a cheater, she wanted to walk the straight and narrow. I, on the other hand, got a soy latte. Did you know there was a size smaller than their small (tall)? There is; it's insultingly called a "short", and that's what we got to lessen the splurge. I ordered from the app and VM went in to get it. How convenient that she had no problem finding our mobile orders since they were the only tiny cups in the tray! I'll admit I didn't "need" more than that (but definitely would have drank as much as I ordered), but still; she was working my last nerve trying to be a hero.

A few days later we decided to have a semi-cheat day (more like a meal) to give our metabolism a kick-start. Ray Cronise doesn't recommend "rare and appropriate" cheats until after 10 weeks of veggies, but Ray obviously has more willpower than we do. We decided to get Indian takeout and ultimately ordered/ate 1/2 - 2/3 of what we normally would. I definitely ate more than I needed to, but it wasn't as mind blowing as I expected it to taste after weeks of no added flavor. Whereas Penn warned that celery would taste salty and food with oil would taste spoiled, I was just finding that certain foods that I assumed would be, just weren't worth a cheat. On top of that, I had a reaction to what I originally assumed was the rice/bread after having had none, but a friend suggested it could have been "wheat belly" instead of the starch and/or gluten. Interesting either way; my nose ran like a faucet all evening. Related: I ate a little coconut curry rice with my veggies at a work lunch meeting one day and was then uncharacteristically ravenous at dinner; that hasn't happened since this whole shebang started and it really cautioned me to avoid rice/bread and even fruit which seemed to have the same effect (although, curiously, not fresh juice). At another work meeting I loaded my plate up with salad: mixed greens, tomatoes, cukes, carrots, multi-colored peppers. There was no vinegar in the room, so I drizzled- at most- a teaspoon and a half of vegan balsamic vinaigrette. It was SO sweet, SO pungent that it was borderline unpleasant. Way too pungent. There has to be a happy medium between that and plain vinegar (red wine or balsamic), but I've yet to find it.

it only took a couple of weeks before I was ready for more potatoes

Obviously I'd started reading labels more carefully (kind of funny for a vegan to say that) and I was learning about secret things that I'd never noticed before. For instance, I LOVE hot sauce. My friend gave me a new one for the holidays and I finished 1/2 the bottle in three meals. Since Penn had mentioned that during phase 2 he was allowed to add Tabasco only, I started comparing hot sauce ingredients- mostly because I don't really like Tabasco. To my surprise, my go-to OG sriracha was positively laden with sodium in comparison. You know what else is laden with sodium? NUTRITIONAL YEAST! Nooch, you traitor. My wise friend pointed out that it's "grown in salt water," like I was supposed to have known that. Whatevs; B12 ;-) Mustard can be consumed seemingly with abandon and my favorite mustard, Kosciusko, is a delightfully flavorful and spicy treat on potatoes- yes, potatoes. Who could have predicted that mustard- unassuming condiment that it is, would wind up being the flavor savior in all this?

VM and I share a gold card

Although not a lot by coffee-drinker standards, I hadn't realized how much coffee I was drinking previously. So, of course I started thinking about what was actually in the "coffees"- even a short. I use the term "coffee" loosely because I don't actually like coffee/espresso unless it's filled up with soy milk (or Oatly...) and, um, sweetener. The short latte I had was unsweetened in that I hadn't added a flavor (pumps of sugary goodness), although I believe SB uses sweetened vanilla soy milk. It was delicious. At the coffee shop near work one day, I got a small soy latte instead of a small soy vanilla latte. It was good, but not as good. It made me think, should I be drinking lattes if I need to jazz them up with sugar? Maybe I shouldn't! Or, do I want to drink plain lattes once a week or vanilla lattes once/month and enjoy them more. All good things to consider! Instead of mindlessly consuming beverages, I was really thinking about what was in them and the volume I was consuming. SO MUCH THINKING. Positively exhausting

I had to miss some social events because I was under the weather for unrelated reasons, so I planned another cheat day for my favorite event: Vegan Shop-up. You know how they say you should pack your day's food or at least plan it out so you don't eat anything impulsively? That was my plan. I scoured the event's scheduled vendors and planned exactly the things I was going to eat...AND I stuck to the plan. Drinking was fine too. I love sweet drinks and I ordered an amazing one. Okay, 2. That was my limit! So, all was going exceedingly well until I met friends for dinner, ordered an enormous noodle dish and, well, you know how that goes. I didn't consciously tell myself that I'd only eat half. I didn't divide the plates contents into eat now/eat later. So, before I knew it, it was all gone. What can I say? Lesson learned. More nose-blowing with the added bonus of feeling uncomfortably full. Not good.

Also when they brought out a case of fritos I almost dove over the bar

Visiting with friends:
Okay, this section isn't about socializing; it's about all the delicious treats I hid in VM's pantry after I'd cleaned out my own pre-potato famine! Ironically, I was in there looking to see if she had Tabasco, but as I was scanning the shelves my eyes fell upon old friends. Hello, Vegan Rob's cauliflower puffs; how are you? Chocolate Calling chocolate-covered potato chips and pretzels, ARE YOU OKAY? Don't be mad; we'll be together soon, I hope. As this reunion of sorts was taking place, I heard VM tell OD, "THIS is what she does in the supermarket! Stares at the pizza and I can't get her out of the ice cream aisle." In my defense, the reason I was looking at pizza was because I'm still looking for more Amy's pizza swirls. I haven't had them since the original box! I'd lingered so long in the ice cream aisle was because I was looking for Sorbabes' peanut butter with caramel and chocolatey chunks after I'd been blown away by the double chocolate hazelnut and fudge. RESEARCH, VM! Then she yelled at me from the other room, "GET OUT OF THERE!" You see, after having been a cheater, VM was not allowing any deviation on her watch.

It's fair to say that most socialization revolves around food, but could it be true that it all does? Or has to? There is more than a grain of truth in the theory. But, I've now gone out a number of times on not-cheat days and done fine. I'll order a seltzer instead of a drink. Tea instead of a latte. Salad without dressing is not too dry if there are enough veggies and it's a fine substitute over sub-par hummus or meh fries at non vegan friendly establishments. I'm not wasting a cheat on a salad just because of dressing! Basically I'm only cheating when it's worth it, and for me that most always means that it's planned in advance and it's for something(s) that are REALLY good. Don't get me wrong; I went to a carnival and ate kettle corn because I couldn't resist. I'm still human! But I now recognize what I need to drastically limit for my own good. Penn cheats with a "rare and appropriate" day once every two weeks. I take them as they come- usually once every week. If there's a holiday thrown in there, it could be twice. So, yes; food and socialization definitely go hand-in-hand and so too does food & tv (I've solved that with carrots over chips), but neither are a license to binge or consume mindlessly.

Another interesting facet of this process has been recognizing that I brought my own specific baggage by having been vegan before starting this journey. When non-vegans flip out about what they're going to eat when invited to a vegan event, that's a glimpse into every vegan just living their life in the real world. We won't starve and neither will you. If I'm not cheating and I'm at an event with no good vegan food, I won't eat potato chips; I'll just eat when I leave. Changing the way I was eating to how I've been eating since starting the potato diet has been similar to going vegan in that I just had to address the reflex, the convenience of eating and replace it with a new normal.

Ultimately, while I didn't have the exact same experience as Penn, this has definitely been a significant lifestyle shift for the better. I feel much improved and I've come to terms with the fact that the scale doesn't lie. Whether or not you choose it as your friend is entirely up to you. For me, I say keep your enemies close ;-)

Friday, April 13, 2018

Comida Fresca at Whole Foods Metuchen

I had an appointment in the area a few weeks ago so I did a quick google search for vegan food and Comida Fresca, a fast casual establishment with a bar in the relatively new Whole Foods Metuchen, came up with a decidedly vegan-friendly menu.

We ordered two agua frescas that took an inordinately long time to come out and were cloyingly sweet with little discernible taste other than that the hibiscus lemon was less disgusting than the honeydew lime. BUT we were already eyeing the establishment's pinball machines for a post-lunch game.

I didn't want us to fill up on guac and then not be able to try other things, so we went with the chips & salsa to start. The chips arrived a little oily on wax paper in a baking sheet, so I assumed they'd fried them in-house. The salsa was nice- not too much cilantro and there were a lot of sweet bell peppers in it, which I thought had a great taste and probably filled in the gaps during the tomato off-season.

In our ongoing effort to eat more greens, we ordered the vegan salad option: heart of Jalisco: kale, heart of palm, jicama, bruleed orange (nope; ours were fresh), avocado (it was guac), pepitas, lime agave vinaigrette. This was such an enormous salad that we shared it, used it with our entrees, and even took some home.

My only complaint was how plain it was; the whole was really just the sum of it's parts: kale, hearts of palm, jicama, (not bruleed) orange, guacamole (not avocado), pepitas, and a dressing that literally tasted like lime juice and agave.

We each ordered the vegan taco option (2 per order): faux-rizo: cauliflower rice, tomatillos, jicama, cilantro, vegan lime crema. The presentation was really disappointing, as was the taste. Have you ever tried cauliflower rice plain? Judging by the color, I assumed this must have had some seasoning, but my tastebuds would declare otherwise. There was more jicama, which added a negligible crunch. I guess they were out of the tomatillos (we know Whole Foods has a history of not utilizing their own stock)? The crema was wet, that's about all I can say it added. How a place like Whole Foods could offer such a deplorable and anemic looking vegan option is completely beyond me. 


I filled up my tacos with some of the behemoth salad and accoutrements for improved flavor and presentation. VM was not a fan in the least. It honestly wasn't worth the effort it took to chew it.

Pinball fans from way back, we were excited to check out the machines at the end of our meal.

To our surprise, NEITHER of them were in working order.

The restaurant's website has only two photos and one of them is of these pinball machines. For them not to be working was a travesty.

You won't be too surprised to learn that the place was empty when we were there.

Not much else left to say*. Overall, not noteworthy; just skip it. Do better, Whole Foods.

*except I do want to note that Whole Foods is positively BLOWING the free TTLA advertising from Tabitha Brown; I've been to three Whole Foods since who haven't had it.